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  • La Maggiolata

    By Nicola Turchetti

    Lucignano, an ancient medieval village, is located in a beautiful panoramic setting amidst the hills of the Chiana Valley in Tuscany. With unique urban design, composed of three concentric circles, Lucignano appears as an ellipse.

    The last two Sundays in May mark an important event in the town's history. Called La Maggiolata, it celebrates the beginning of the summer's bounty and is the most important celebration for the 3000 inhabitants of Lucignano. Like spokes on a wheel, the town is divided into four segments: Porta Murata, Porta San Giovanni, Via dell'Amore and Porta San Giusto. Each segment has two colors which distinguish it from the others and the flags of the wards are proudly waved from every flower-covered window ledge. Broom flowers are placed along each doorway, balcony and window as well to celebrate the bounty of Spring.

    Unchanged from olden days, this celebration consists of a stunning parade with four wagons representing each "Contrada" and the "contradioli" spend months preparing the wagon to reflect the year's chosen theme. For each wagon, the citizens meet often three to four nights a week to create a virtual masterpiece that must be covered by flowers. Between 15,000 - 20,000 flowers are used for each cart representing an allegorical image. The wagons are judged at the end of the Maggiolata and the victors are the first to sing and dance until late in the night. Throughout the year, the women of the town create handmade costumes from the XII-XIII Century for all participants in the Maggiolata.

    Beginning on Saturday night of the first week, the festival is marked by a parade consisting of local folkloristic groups that announce the festivities at hand. The next morning, the Corteo Storico, the historical group in town, announce the day's festivities with a sounding of horns. The People's Representative on horseback makes a brief announcement with his "Priore" (his armed guard from ancient times) by his side and the festivities begin.

    Marking the tradition of competing wards, a relay race between the fastest runners of each Contrada takes place on the outermost ring of the town. On each side of the street people cheer for their runners. In the afternoon, at precisely 4:00 PM, the church bells of the main church in the village begin ringing and it is time for the main event. On the outer ring begins the procession of the four wagons each proceeded by folkloristic musicians, marching bands and fanfare. Each wagon makes four laps around the town and during the last lap, called the "Battle of the Flowers", the thousands of flowers covering the wagons are thrown into the expectant crowd, covering the streets in a rainbow of colors and perfumes. The street becomes a multi-colored carpet of flowers that is truly breath taking. After the last circle by the wagon, people mingle and go to the various restaurants around the town that have special menus celebrating the Maggiolata.

    On the second Sunday, after dinner, the election of the most beautiful wagon takes place. All the citizens of the winning Contrada celebrate their hard work by being the first to sing and dance on the large stage erected for this purpose. The celebrations go long into the night but already the very next day, all the Contradas are back at work focusing on the next year's Maggiolata. This is truly a festivity not to be missed and people from all over the world come to witness this event.

    Additional Resources:
    Interview With Italian Learn Language School
    La Maggiolata Photo Gallery

    Photo copyright © Italian Learn.
    Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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